What is your Walk Score?

Walkable neighborhoods provide a surprising number of benefits to our health, our financial wellbeing, our communities and global preservation. Compact development lessens our ever-expanding dependency upon the automobile, one of the leading causes of climate change. According to research[i], those who are residents of a walkable neighborhood weigh 6-10 pounds less than those who live within a sprawling suburb. Studies also indicate that residents who must commute by car to and from necessary errands are less likely to spend time getting involved in neighborhood activities. 

Walk Score® is a tool designed to promote pedestrian oriented communities in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The initial goal when the website was created in 2007 was to promote awareness. It has since expanded into a real estate tool for those seeking to reside in neighborhoods with a high walkability score. The mission is to provide information to help encourage those seeking an apartment or house to consider less auto-centric neighborhoods. Walk Score website was inspired by the work of Sightline Institute, a small non profit research organization dedicated to equip northwest’s citizens and decision–makers with practical tools they need to advance long term sustainable solutions in the northwestern united states. A report on Walking the Walk. How Walkability Raises Home Values in U.S. Cities by CEOs for Cities states that one point of Walk Score may add up to $3,000 of property value.

What makes a neighborhood walkable?

Walkable communities feature a neighborhood hub, whether it’s a main street or a public plaza. They accommodate a dense population with a mix of incomes and building uses. Walkable communities provide numerous public spaces for all community members to gather and play. These neighborhoods feature complete streets, integrating bicycle, public transit and pedestrian transport systems. Access to schools, grocery stores and other community amenities is also an important aspect of compact pedestrian oriented development. Structures that are close to the sidewalk and street, and parking that is oriented to the rear of the building are also important community design characteristics of walkable neighborhoods.

How does Walk Score work?

Walk Score community rankings methodology uses four different data sources: a Walk Score algorithm, city boundaries, neighborhood boundaries and population data. The Walk Score algorithm measures the walkability of individual addresses based on proximity to nearby amenities. Neighborhoods and cities do not receive lower scores because of large parks, bodies of water or other undeveloped areas of land. Population and city boundaries are determined by current US Census data. Anyone can visit the website, type in an address, and will immediately receive a walkability score.

Walk Score ranks 2,500 US cities, over 10 million locations and is expanding everyday. Anyone can send a note regarding new amenities in their neighborhood and these can be added to the website. Walk Score also encourages planners and researchers to use the data to help promote other sustainable practices.

Is this the beginning of a new type of real estate purchases? Will people begin to look up their Walk Score instead of selecting communities based on privacy? Instead of determining value by acres of land, we can value our homes by the communities we live in. Walk Score is giving everyday people the resources to make informed decisions about their communities and help promote a more sustainable future for all of us.

To find your Walk Score click here.

To learn more about Sightline Institute click here.

[i] Smith, Ken R., Barbara B. Brown, Ikuho Yamada, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, Cathleen D. Zick, Jessie X. Fan. “Walkability and Body Mass Index: Density, Design, and New Diversity Measures.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2008 35(3): 237-244